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"Explaining EU's External Relations. Origins and consolidation of EU's policy towards Eastern Europe and Russia, 1969-1985"

Final Report Summary - ECOSTPOLITIK (Explaining EU's External Relations. Origins and consolidation of EU's policy towards Eastern Europe and Russia, 1969 - 1985)

The research project aimed at offering a historical analysis of the attempts of the European Community (EC) and its Member States to collectively shape, implement, and further develop a common policy towards the Soviet bloc in the period 1969 - 1985. The EC Member States' decision at the Hague Summit of December 1969 to proceed with the first enlargement and to initiate a mechanism for foreign policy cooperation (European Political Cooperation (EPC)) was meant to promote a more pro-active engagement of the community in the world. The flourishing of détente in the first half of the 1970s allowed for a prominent EC role in East-West relations, but the subsequent decade of increasing tensions between the United States (US) and the Soviet Union posed severe strains on the EC's action. The research project sought to explore the interplay at supranational and multinational levels between EC institutions and member states' efforts to forge a greater degree of European unity and their actions to assert a distinct political role for the EC in the international arena. The research project aspired to contribute to a more comprehensive history of the Cold War, the integration process, and of Europe as a continent. Moreover, it had the ambition to add to the wider debate on the question of the EC / EU as an international actor in general, and to the enlargement of the EU to Eastern Europe and its relations with Russia in particular, in a fruitful dialogue with scholars in the fields of international relations (IR), international law, and international economic relations.

Dr Angela Romano (the researcher) planned to disseminate the research findings through academic publications and participation in seminars, workshops, and conferences at national and international level. She also envisaged the organisation of an international conference on one of the topics connected to the research project, as a means to stimulate the birth of a research network and to encourage future research in the field.

Dr Romano first carried out a thorough review of the existing literature in fields of international history, Cold War History, European integration history, economic history, IR, economics, and international law. She has subsequently conducted an in-depth multi-national and multi-archival research in the historical archives of the EC / EU (Florence and Brussels sites) as well as in several national archives across Europe and the US. She has also consulted material available from online archives such as the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, the Cold War International History Project, the National Security Archive, the University of Pittsburgh's online Archive on European Integration, and the Open Society Archives. Dr Romano has also continually discussed her findings with Dr Piers Ludlow (the scientist in charge) as well as with colleagues from the LSE and other universities. She has been actively engaged in the dissemination of her research findings through seminar talks and participation in international workshops and conferences. She has therefore been able to expand and strengthen scientific relations with colleagues from a variety of European universities, as well as from the US, Russia, and Japan.

Dr Romano's research has clearly demonstrated the existence of a successful EC policy towards the socialist bloc during the Cold War. She has been able to define its the nature, features and goals, and assess the implementation of such policy within the international context. Dr Romano offers an unprecedented historical investigation into the role of the European Community in the overcoming of the East-West divide. Making use of recently released primary sources from a broad range of European and US archives, she reveals the ability of the EC and its Member States to shape, implement, and further develop a coordinated Eastern policy and play a significant transformative role in the continent. She demonstrates that the EC polity successfully managed to challenge Soviet bloc-keeping imperatives, resist the US call for a confrontational stance towards the communist world, and promote instead new intra-European relations based on cooperation and interdependence. Dr Romano argues that the EC Ostpolitik contributed to undermining socialist integration, offered an alternative path of relations to Eastern European countries, and established the influential role of the community in the continent, laying the ground on which to build post-Cold War Europe.

Dr Romano's findings are presented in high-quality scientific publications, namely chapters in edited volumes and an article in the leading peer-reviewed journal Cold War History. She is now completing a monograph, for which world-renowned publisher Routledge has offered her a contract for publication in its Cold War Series.

In addition, Dr Romano is clearly further affirming herself as an international expert in her fields and has established fruitful academic links beyond the LSE (her host organisation). These contacts have led to the organisation of the international conference Socialist Visions and Policies on European Cooperation, which took place at the EUI on 23 to 25 May 2013. The researcher and Prof. Federico Romero conceived and co-organised the conference, which has been funded by the Marie Curie Inter-European Fellowship (IEF) research budget and the Department of History and Civilization at the EUI. Dr Romano has also secured the publication of this network's scientific findings as a special issue in the peer-reviewed journal European Review of History.

The most significant and immediate outcome of the project will be Dr Romano's second monograph, which is due to be published in late 2014. Together with the other publications (articles, chapters), the monograph will offer a major contribution to the historiography of the Cold War, of the European integration process and of Europe as a continent, filling a gap that many scholars have acknowledged.

Moreover, Dr Romano is developing a research network involving colleagues from Central and Eastern Europe on the theme of cooperation and integration in Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. Talks are taking place about the possibility of institutionalising the network and applying for a major research grant, which would contribute to reconcile studies on the two halves of Europe and promote a more comprehensive history of the continent during the Cold War era.

At the same time, the research is likely to have a broader potential impact. The question of along which lines a common European foreign policy is possible and effective needs to be tackled with an eye to relevant historical developments. First, the research reveals a pro-active role of the EC towards the East since the early 1970s, whereas historians and political scientists generally acknowledge an effective role of the European institutions only in the post-communist era. Second, the project defines an accurate terminology for the European actor and its role in the international arena. The use of 'Europe', the 'EC/EU', and 'Western Europeans' as interchangeable terms often contributes to a limited understanding of the European polity in several academic disciplines as well as by the wider public. Finally, the project offers the first comprehensive international and supranational historical analysis of the origins of a European common foreign policy. It examines, in a trans-national perspective, the ways in which national member states and EC institutions influenced each other and to what extent common European ideas and standards - human rights, security, civil or soft power - increasingly played a role in political debate and policy-making. This will not only allow for the uncovering of peculiarities, connections and causal linkages which have gone undetected or have been overlooked in the case of purely national approaches, but also contribute to a better understanding of past and present EC / EU polity by providing a sound analysis of the interplay of the various actors and mechanisms at EC / EU level. This project's results will therefore not only be beneficial for historical research as well as social and political sciences, but also have a political dimension in broadening our understanding of crucial EU issues. They are likely to be of interest to policy-makers at national and EU levels concerned with the development of an actual and successful EU common foreign and security policy.

Contact details:
Dr Angela Romano